London (AFP) – Antonio Conte accepted Pedro dived in a controversial FA Cup tie that has left Chelsea without the forward and fellow striker Alvaro Morata for a Premier League match at Brighton on Saturday.
Pedro and Morata were both sent off after they each received an initial yellow card for diving on Wednesday night in a third round FA Cup replay against second-tier Norwich. Chelsea finished extra time at Stamford Bridge down to nine men and drawing 1-1 before winning a pernalty shootout.
Willian was also shown a yellow card in an incident that called into question the effectiveness of the Video Assistant Referee system that is being trialled in English cup ties this season.
Chelsea coach Conte was unhappy with the booking Morata received but said the Spain striker had over-reacted in earning an immediate second booking for dissent, but he had no defence for Pedro’s first yellow card.
“For Pedro we must be honest to accept Pedro dived,” Conte told reporters on Friday.
Chelsea did score their first goal after three successive scoreless draws.
They are unbeaten in 11 games, but without a win in 2018, drawing all five games since the turn of the year — a run that suggests the Premier League champions could do with signing a proven striker during the January transfer window.
The Blues have been linked with Roma’s Edin Dzeko, while there were reports Thursday they wanted to bring Stoke’s experienced Peter Crouch to Stamford Bridge after a move for another target man, Andy Carroll, collapsed because of the West Ham forward’s ankle injury.
Conte, however, was tight-lipped ahead of a match against Brighton where Chelsea will look to maintain their grip on a top four place that will guarantee qualification for the Champions League.
“I give my opinion to my club, but the final decision is for the club,” he said. “I have to wait and to see what happens during this transfer market. I’m very calm under this aspect.”
“It’s not right to talk about players of other teams. I’m not interested in it,” the Italian added.
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